That’s the argument I see and hear while reading blogs and watching TV commentary regarding the discussion of the “lawful contact” term in the Arizona immigration law. So, I did some research.
From the Miriam-Webster dictionary:
established by law; conforming to or permitted by law or established rules.
Therefore, “lawful contact” is contact which is permitted by already established laws or rules. The term “lawful contact” is not, in itself, a legal term, which is why it can’t be found in a legal dictionary. It simply refers to already existing laws for affirmation of the legality of an action. It is a common phrase used in Federal law and in the laws of every state in the Union. It is not new nor is it unique to Arizona’s law.
So, when opponents of the Arizona immigration law claim that “lawful contact” allows police to stop anyone, anytime, including your grandmother walking down the street, and demand proof of citizenship, it is simply not true. Authorities must still abide by the already existing laws, just as they did last year and in the years before. The term does not grant police additional power.
The fact that many believe that this term, which has no legal standing by itself, allows racial profiling is proof of the gullibility of the American people and the pervasive ignorance which engulfs this nation and in addition, it shows just how adept and well practiced the politicians and special interests are at pulling the wool over the peoples’ eyes. This is just one more instance of that dangerous combination of blind partisanship and ignorance, which politicians and special interests intently nurture for their benefit, and which divides us along party lines and slowly chips away at the very foundation of our country.